First introduced to honor Union and Confederate soldiers after the Civil War, Memorial Day is now generally used to mark the beginning of summer as well as providing a time to commemorate all U.S. soldiers. Always observed on the last Monday of May, Memorial Day kicks off the grilling season and celebrates the start of the family get-togethers, beach days, picnics, fireworks and barbecues that the warmer weather will bring.
See also: Cleaning tips for grimy grill grates
A few food safety tips to ensure a healthy, happy grilling season:
- Don't leave perishable food out at room temperature for more than two hours. If you're having a party that will go longer than that, be sure to refrigerate cooked leftovers immediately, leaving foods like pretzels or tortilla chips out for guests to graze on.
- Make sure to keep marinades, sauces, utensils and tools separate for raw and cooked meat! If you want to reuse a sauce or marinade once the meat is cooked, boil it first.
- When grilling, preheat the coals for 20 to 30 minutes, or until they are coated in ash. Use a meat thermometer to check food temperatures: 160 degrees is safe for hamburgers and red meat, and 165 for ground poultry. Poultry breast should reach 170 degrees; dark meat such as wings and thighs, 180.
Barbecued Chicken by Bob Sloan
Since dark meat needs to reach a higher internal temperature than chicken breast, it helps to place the chicken legs in the hotter center of the grill.
The Great American Burger by Steven Raichlen: One trick to hamburger making is to handle the meat as little as possible, so that it retains its moisture. Ground sirloin, chuck or round will all do just fine.